Justice Walter Onnoghen has five pending appeals before the Court of Appeal in Abuja, but none of them was decided before he was convicted and removed from office by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Thursday, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
Onnoghen filed the sixth appeal on Thursday to challenge his conviction by the CCT.
The appeals were filed within the three months the historic trial of the ex-CJN lasted.
One of the five pre-judgment appeals Onnoghen filed on March 29 to challenge the CCT’s decision to dismiss his no-case submission has not been heard as the defence and prosecution have yet to exchange briefs on it.
While four out of the six pending appeals were heard on February 27, the Court of Appeal continues to withhold its judgments on them about seven weeks after the verdicts were reserved.
Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, one of the lawyers in Onnoghen’s legal team, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), confirmed that with the one filed on Thursday to challenge the conviction, there were six appeals relating to the trial at the Court of Appeal.
He said, “Before the judgment on Thursday, we had five appeals. But with the one filed yesterday (Thursday), we now have six appeals.
“Out of the six appeals, four have been heard, but judgments have not been delivered despite having been heard many weeks ago.”
Asked on Friday if the defence team had received the date for the judgments, Uche said, “no”.
Although the constitution gives a court a period not more than three months to deliver its judgment or ruling after the hearing of any application or a suit, Onnoghen’s legal team and aides have been expressing concerns about the delayed judgments of the Court of Appeal.
Onnoghen’s lead defence counsel in his trial at CCT, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), had in The PUNCH’s earlier report expressed disappointment with the development when responding to our correspondent’s enquiry.
He said, “We are highly disappointed that the Court of Appeal has not delivered its judgments on the appeals by the CJN despite the far-reaching constitutional implications of the appeals.
“This is a case that affects the judiciary, but things have slowed down at the Court of Appeal.”
But the prosecuting counsel, Mr Aliyu Umar (SAN), who led the Federal Government’s team to oppose the appeals at the higher court, had also in The PUNCH’s report dismissed the concerns expressed by the defence in an interview with our correspondent.
“The Court of Appeal has three months within which to give judgments, and they are still within their right, as long as they don’t exceed three months,” Umar said.
One of Onnoghen’s four appeals already heard by the Court of Appeal challenged the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the non-declaration of assets charges instituted against him before the CCT.
Another appeal challenged the February 23 ex parte order which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to suspend him as the CJN and to appoint Justice Tanko Muhammad as the acting CJN on February 25.
The third appeal challenged the CCT’s refusal to be bound by the orders made by the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court directing the tribunal to halt the CJN’s trial.
The fourth one asked the court to set aside the arrest warrant issued against him by the CCT on February 13.
On February 27, a three-man bench of the court led by Justice Steven Adah finally heard the four appeals and reserved judgments, after the cases had been previously adjourned on three occasions.
Justice Adah, who led Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson and Justice Peter Ige on the panel, said the date for the judgments would be communicated to the parties when the judgments are ready.
But seven weeks after no date for the judgment has been communicated.
The remaining two appeals yet to be heard are the ones challenging the March 28 ruling of the CCT, on Onnoghen’s no-case submission, and another challenging the judgment of the tribunal which convicted him on Thursday.
The three-man tribunal led by Danladi Umar after convicting Onnoghen, ordered his removal as the CJN and the Chairman of both the National Judicial and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
The tribunal banned him from holding any public officer for a period of 10 years.
The tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of the money in the five bank accounts which the defendant failed to declare as part of his assets in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
Gbajabiamila Threatens to Report Service Chiefs to Buhari for Shunning Security Meeting
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, berated the nation’s military Service Chiefs for allegedly refusing to appear before the House to offer explanations on the security situation in the country.
A visibly disappointed Gbajabiamila, who described their action as an insult to the National Assembly, promised to report the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Gbajabiamila noted with dismay that the act of shunning the invitation of the National Assembly by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of the Air Staff (CAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, was uncalled for.
The Speaker, who declined to meet with representatives of the Service Chiefs, directed the affected military officers to appear before the House on Monday morning.
He commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu; the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, who were present at the meeting.
Gbajabiamila described the conduct of the Service Chiefs as a sad development since all arms of government were supposed to work in unison for the development of the country and the benefit of Nigerians.
He said: “Let me first of all commend Mr President for the commitment he has shown in trying to stem the spate of insecurity in the country. Mr President has to have people he would delegate those powers to as the Commander-in-Chief as dictated by our constitution.
“Mr President has delegated those powers to the Service Chiefs, so we decided to call this meeting, as representatives of the people. Let me commend the Inspector General of Police for being here personally. Let me also commend the DG DSS and the CG Nigerian immigration for being here.
“Let me say, as a House, as an institution, I cannot understate my disappointment or our disappointment that the rest of the Service Chiefs are not here.
“Again, like I said, we called this meeting because it was inevitable. It was important. You can see members from Borno State here. There is a crisis in Borno State right now.
“We wanted to hear from the Service Chiefs to know what was going on, how the House can help and what the problems are as well as what are the challenges; to talk about strategy, to talk about what we need to do.
“I’m sure you really didn’t expect the House to fold its arms while people in Maiduguri and other parts are being killed. There is migration now from local councils in Borno State to Maiduguri. Here we are, we called the Armed Forces coordinated by the CDS, who is not here with Service Chiefs being represented. I’m actually at a loss.
“For me, I believe my colleagues are in tandem with this. The Service Chiefs — the CDS, the COAS, the CNS and the CAS — are not represented as far as we are concerned. I’m sorry, when I said not represented, as far as I’m concerned, the heads are not here, the Service Chiefs are not here. I know one or two of these Service Chiefs were somewhere yesterday night. I am aware of that.
“I can almost say it shows a disdain for this institution. The budget is on its way. Yes, we need to talk about that. What do you need? What is required? I’m almost embarrassed. To tell you the truth. I’m almost embarrassed.”
The Speaker added: “There was no call placed to my office to explain why. I’m just seeing accountants and representatives. So, I’m not sure how to handle this, because I don’t think this is happening anywhere in any Parliament that I know of in the world, where the head of parliament will call the Service Chiefs for a nagging problem, how to resolve it and you have what we have here as representations.
“So, I think it’s important that we might need to postpone this meeting to Monday morning. I will personally see the President myself. We are supposed to work together as a body, but it shows lack of seriousness apart from the disdain on Parliament. It shows that this is not as serious to the level that we believe it is. Unfortunately, this meeting can no longer hold.”
In his terse remarks, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, described the development as an insult to his person and the institution of the legislature.
“In strong terms, I condemn those who have deemed it fit not to be here. As far as I’m concerned, as the Chairman of a Committee, I never attended to any agency in the absence of the chief executives and the accounting officers, and I know that these Service Chiefs are the accounting officers in their various agencies. It is our practice, tradition and I am insulted.”
After the remarks, the Speaker postponed the meeting to Monday morning. Present at the session were some principal officers of the House and chairmen of relevant security committees.
FG Slams Sowore with Treason Charges, Accuses Him of Insulting Buhari
The Federal Government on Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against the Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and a presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, is charged along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate.
The charges were signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The charges were filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days.
The detention order elapses on September 21.
In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The prosecution also accused them of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.
It also accused Sowore of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by “knowingly” sending “messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It also accused Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 by alleged transferring by means of swift wire.
The sums of money he was said to have been involved in the alleged transfers were the sums of $19,975 on April 2, 2019; $20,475 on May 21, 2019, $16,975 on June 27, 2019, and another $16,975 on July 16, 2019.
The DSS arrested Sowore in Lagos on August 2, 2019, following his call for revolution in a protest he organised to take place in some major cities on August 5.
Atiku Breaks Silence, Gives Reasons for Heading to Supreme Court
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23, 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday said he would appeal at the Supreme Court the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to ensure that votes of Nigerians count.
In his first official statement after President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress defeated him at the tribunal, he also said he believed he would get justice at the Supreme Court.
Atiku said, “Nothing good comes easy; and hard as the task to rid Nigeria of the forces of fascism and be an instrument for the full restoration of the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria is, your support makes the struggle worthwhile.
“I owe so much to this great land of Nigeria that took me from the streets of Jada, where I sold firewood to the heights I have attained, by God’s benevolence, in the civil service, in corporate Nigeria and in public service.
“If I do not play my part in making it possible for other orphaned children, indigent youths and the less privileged, to replicate and even surpass my path to significance, I would have failed my maker. If I do not ensure that the ladder I climbed remains accessible to those at the bottom, middle and top tiers of society, I would not have fulfilled my purpose.
He added, “And only by ensuring that democracy is not just done but seen to be done can Nigeria and Nigerians have a sense that this dear land is indeed a land where unity, faith, peace and progress reside.
“Yes, those who do not want this as Nigeria’s reality will use every trick in the book to undermine, discourage, misinform and mislead, but with God’s help and the support of Nigerians, we will ensure that Nigeria makes a course correction away from tyranny and towards democracy.
“We must return to being Africa’s bastion of democracy, where the rights to freedom of speech and freedom after the speech are guaranteed. We must stand together to pursue this just cause all the way, so that our judiciary is not afraid to do its job and has to be wary of blackmail, intimidation and victimisation.”